To gain higher qualifications, many practitioners choose to study while in full-time work. How can studying this way benefit the professional and the setting?
With university fees increasing and a lack of financial support for students; many practitioners are unable to study for early years degrees full time. This leaves many with two options; open university and part time courses. To study a foundation degree through open university, the average time span is three years compared to the average two years at university. This can often tempt many professionals into taking on the part-time course, however studying and working full time can be difficult.
Most part-time courses consist of one afternoon or one day at the university to attend lectures or taught lessons and are assessed through coursework. For practitioners who are unable to afford to study full time, this enables them to continue working part or full time. Although this can be stressful and time-consuming for practitioners, it also has many benefits.
Training while working in an early years setting enables professionals to extend and build on their knowledge. Much of the curriculum taught through the foundation degree is based on a working knowledge of the EYFS, current theories and practice. Practitioners can apply their current knowledge to their study and gain a further understanding of issues in childcare. This, in turn, can then be reapplied to their practice, to ensure their role is current and of high quality.
Sharing best practice
There is a desire to upskill the early years workforce and increase the number of graduates in Early Years. This is beneficial, to not only the children’s quality of learning but to the workforce as a whole. A graduate led workforce can lead practice and offer practitioners a highly knowledgeable mentor. This can positively impact on the way in which learning is delivered and supported in Early Years settings. Practitioners should be encouraged to share best practice to provide a high-quality learning environment, supporting outcomes for all children.
Continuous Professional Development
Studying while working supports a practitioner continuous professional development (CPD). This ensures that practitioners can develop and extend their abilities. The Early Years sector is constantly changing with new theories, research and legislation influencing the way children are cared for and their development supported. It is vital that professionals regularly work towards refreshing and extending their knowledge and skills. Settings can help practitioners in their CPD through regular training opportunities and utilise the higher education students to share knowledge and experience.
Improving career options
Studying part time while working can be a big bonus when applying for a job in the sector. It shows that you can juggle study and work life effectively while showing your passion for the career. Qualifying with a degree unlocks a range of career options and paves the way for further study in a specialised subject. Many graduates move into managerial roles upon completion of their degree and use their knowledge and skills to lead quality practice.